Jody Wynn can hardly believe the Washington women’s basketball team has made it this far.
Considering the Huskies’ seven postponed games, the team’s 10-day quarantine in January following two positive COVID-19 tests from UW players and the angst and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, Wynn is ecstatic at approaching the finish line of this unprecedented season.
It hardly matters that No. 11 seed Washington is a heavy underdog against No. 6 Colorado heading into the first round of the Pac-12 tournament at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Michelob Ultra Arena, formerly Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas.
“I can’t even express how excited we are,” Wynn said. “I just feel so lucky to be at a great institution that protected our staff and student-athletes all season long. To be in a conference that fought so hard for our sport to be able to play and to have a season. It’s great to be here in Vegas again like we were last year and the years before playing in a conference tournament.
“Everybody’s record in my eyes is 0-0. This is our third season if you will. We had a very, very short preseason with just three games, which we were able to win all three. Pac-12 play was a roller coaster in a lot of ways, but we managed to stay in the hunt if you will for continued success and we’re looking forward to playing (Wednesday) night at 8 o’clock. We’re excited for tip-off.”
Washington (6-13, 3-13 Pac-12) finished the regular season losing 11 of its last 13 games, including a pair of losses against Colorado.
The Huskies fell 60-50 on Jan. 1 in Boulder, Colo. and lost 55-50 last week in their home finale at Alaska Airlines Arena. In the most recent matchup, UW cut a 17-point deficit to two in the final 2½ minutes and was outscored 8-5 the rest of the way.
“Colorado is somebody that we’re very familiar with having just played them a little over a week ago at our place on our Senior Night,” Wynn said. “It’s fresh in our minds still from a player’s standpoint as well as the coaches. We’re excited. We’re looking forward to the opportunity of getting here.
“We believe they wouldn’t have tournaments if upsets were something that could happen. So we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
During three previous Pac-12 tournament trips with Wynn, Washington has compiled a 2-3 record.
The Huskies, who lost in the first round in 2018 and 2020 as the No. 12 and 9 seed respectively, had a memorable run in 2019 while capturing a pair of upsets as the No. 11 seed to advance to the semifinals. UW lost to eventual champion Stanford, but not before seizing the Sin City spotlight for a few days.
If the Huskies upset Colorado on Wednesday — they had a three-game winning streak against the Buffs before losing two this season — then Washington would face No. 3 UCLA in Thursday’s quarterfinals with a possible matchup against No. 2 Arizona on Friday in the semis.
“It’s win or go home,” Wynn said. “It’s effort combined with performance that are going to equal wins. It’s not just effort. You got to perform at this time of year.
“There’s upsets that happen all over the country during March. That’s why they call it March Madness. You just have to be as mentally and physically prepared as best you can and go out there and give it your all.”